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Media Moments (March 2015)

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A key component of Minnesota's agricultural strength is the farm bill, but first farmers have to understand it. Star Tribune reporter Tom Meersman took a look at the ways Extension helps meet educational needs of farmers in his article, Farmers back in the classroom to figure out farm bill options.

Extension climatologist Mark Seeley contributed to a big-picture study of 23 signs of climate change in Minnesota on Minnesota Public Radio.

You can also look forward to spring with an article in the Star Tribune by reporter and Master Gardener Mary Jane Smetanka. The gardening story shares how Master Gardeners help gardeners determine what seed varieties work best in Minnesota landscapes.

Want more Extension news headlines? Visit In The News on Extension's website!

Media Moments

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After a long winter, Minnesotans were eager to get out in their farm fields and home landscapes, but a cold spring brought more challenges. Throughout the state, Extension helped viewers understand and cope. For example, in this WCCO-TV report Dave Nicolai, crops educator, talked with WCCO-TV's Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield about "rush hour in the countryside" as farmers try to plant their crops before it's too late. And in this report on Minnesota Public Radio, Gary Wyatt, forestry educator, gave homeowners advice about protecting trees from hungry animals. Extension's horticulture educators, like Julie Weisenhorn and Sam Bauer, can be heard on Smart Gardens Saturday mornings at 8 a.m. on WCCO-AM, taking questions from listeners.

Do you have a question about your spring-summer landscape? Ask a Master Gardener is an online tool that lets you put your question on a simple web form (you can even attach a photo!) and receive a research-based answer from a volunteer Master Gardener within 48 hours.

Media Moments

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Did you see the great 4-H story in the Star Tribune? The Star Tribune profiled a Hennepin County 4-H club that meets in the Franklin Library in Minneapolis. Most of its members are of Somali heritage; their recent efforts include making a video about the rich diversity of their neighborhood.

Media Moments

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4-H'ers Shine in the News During State Fair

News stories from the Minnesota State Fair shined the light on the growth and development 4-H'ers gain through their wide array of projects. The stories are available on Extension's "In the News" webpage. Also, discover many stories via the University of Minnesota Extension Facebook page. Highlights included a visual essay from Minnesota Public Radio on a Chisago County 4-H'er whose collaboration with a farm family enables her to show a winter yearling at the fair. 4-H'ers also were embedded as reporters for hometown news media; their stories included this look at the 4-H Hilton in the Chanhassen Villager. 4-H Ambassadors capped the Fair with Dean Durgan joining two ambassadors for an interview with John Hines on WCCO-AM.

Extension Garden Experts Regular Guests on WCCO Radio Saturday Mornings

It's 8 a.m. and inside the WCCO-AM studios callers are already in the queue, seeking answers to their yard and garden questions from Extension experts as "Smart Gardens" begins.  

A trio composed of Julie Weisenhorn, state director of Extension's Master Gardener program, Mary Meyers, Extension horticulturist at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, and Sam Bauer, Extension turfgrass specialist, take turns as host Denny Long's weekly guests on "Smart Gardens" every Saturday from 8-9 a.m. on 830 on the AM dial.  Podcast recordings are also available to listen to through the WCCO website.

"This is what we were looking for," says Long, a 'CCO veteran familiar to listeners throughout the state. "We like having Extension here because people know they're getting trustworthy information. It's great, and it's proven wildly popular."

National Agriculture Day

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As part of Extension's recognition of National Agriculture Day on March 19, Dean Bev Durgan highlighted the role Extension's Institute for Agricultural Professionals plays in bringing the newest research and innovations to farmers. Her column, "Reaching more farmers through agricultural professionals," was distributed to news media throughout Minnesota and has appeared in newspapers and industry publications. It was also shared via Facebook and Twitter.

"According to a 2011 survey, agricultural professionals serve an average of 60 clients each, having an impact on some 48,000 acres. Just one of the Institute's educational programs impacts 4.3 million acres across the state and surrounding regions," Durgan observed. Essential partnerships among Extension, farmers and agricultural professionals were featured recently in Source Magazine.

Extension's Response to Disasters in Minnesota

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National Disaster Preparedness Month, celebrated in September, reminded us of the important educational role Extension and the Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) play in increasing the ability of Minnesotans to prepare for and recover from natural disasters.

When record breaking amounts of rain fell in the Duluth area in June, causing unprecedented and unexpected flooding, Extension responded by mobilizing staff who provided flood-recovery information to 730 families at local disaster recovery centers. The educators shared Recovery After Disaster: The Family Financial Toolkit, and answered questions on recovering damaged documents, recordkeeping for insurance, food safety, septic systems, mold, and the effect of flood water on lawns and gardens.

The effort did not go unnoticed. The Governor's Disaster Proclamation stated that the state looked to Extension to provide "information on a variety of basic household questions and how to prepare food safely following a flood and guide flood victims through financial decisions related to disaster recovery."

Media Efforts Inform, Educate During Unusual Spring Weather

A very warm spring, preceded by a dry fall and winter, invited many questions from Minnesota's farmers and gardeners. Extension specialists and educators worked with the media to provide answers, reinforcing our reputation as a source for credible, research-based information.

Julie Weisenhorn gave gardening advice on Minnesota Public Radio and KARE 11; Mark Seeley and Liz Stahl explained weather patterns, soil moisture and fertility in the Farm & Ranch Guide; Lisa Behnken talked ideal corn-planting dates in the Rochester Post-Bulletin; Jochum Wiersma addressed small grains planting in Ag Week.

Later, when the drought ended throughout most of the state and storms brought abundant rain and hail, John Lamb, Dan Kaiser and Jeff Coulter used the media to help farmers shift gears and cope with new challenges. Many other specialists and educators communicated research-based recommendations via newspapers, radio stations, websites and social media.

Get all the latest Extension headlines

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If you would like to know when Extension hits the news, subscribe to the Extension In The News news clips. We will email you each Tuesday with links to stories about Extension programming and partnerships, or stories that quote Extension experts on newsworthy subjects.

In The News is a weekly sampling of recent Extension news clips from local, regional, statewide and national sources. Collected online via GoogleNews, In The News represents about one-third of Extension's total news clips.

To subscribe, send an email to, or subscribe from Extension's news website.

A cold, rainy spring meant delayed crop planting for Minnesota farmers. It has also meant more chances to reinforce Extension's reputation as a source for credible, research-based information.

Several Extension faculty and educators were busy with state, regional and local media covering this topic. Liz Stahl and Russ Severson, explained the late-planting situation to a broad audience on MPR's Morning Edition, and David Nicolai helped WCCO-TV present accurate information to metro viewers. Seth Naeve, Jeff Coulter and Nicolai reached farmers with related research-based information for decision-making via Ag News Wire columns, which are distributed to hundreds of local and ag news sources. These columns appeared, for example, in Minnesota Ag Connection and Tri-State Neighbor. Local educators such as Jodi DeJong-Hughes and Dan Martens (and several others) gave interviews to ag

A video featuring Operation: Military Kids (OMK), which supports military youth in Minnesota in discovering positive ways to cope with deployment, is now available on Extension's YouTube channel. The video was created to pitch the timely program to the news media and to feature the program on the internet. YouTube makes it easy to share videos by email or on Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites - just click the "Share" button below the video for options.

The topic of military families is newsworthy as approximately 2,500 troops from Minnesota are preparing to be deployed in the coming months. In addition, more than 15,000 youth have already been affected by the deployment of a parent or loved one.

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